22 April 2013

In Hot Water - An Ill-Fated Boat Trip on Lake Fewa

Relentless grey skies. I felt right at home.
It was a lovely day for a boat ride. 

At first.

I spent Nepali New Year's Eve in Pokhara, a lakeside resort town at the base of the Annapurnas, visiting some friends and decompressing away from the mayhem of the big city. Saturday, April 13 marked the changing of the calendar from 2069 to 2070, and Rahul, Ben, Jo and I celebrated the occasion by pouring liberal amounts of rotgut local spirits down our throats.

The amount of fun we'd had at the Old Blues Bar the night before was therefore directly correlated to the shuddering, jittery messes that sat around the brunch table at Perky Beans. We were a veritable UN of foul language, R. Kelly quotes and bad jokes; Rahul (Australia) was wearing Jo's (Netherlands) hot pink sunglasses, Ben (UK) was mercilessly teasing me for my Canadian-ness and I was my usual hangover hot mess of inappropriate humour and equally inappropriate cleavage.

My milkshake brings a good 40 - 45% of the boys to the yard.

It was sickly hot and muggy - the thickness of the air clung to my skin and got caught in my throat. We debated what to do - lay indoors and watch a movie? Sit in a pub and drink beer all afternoon? Climb up to the Peace Pagoda? Jo piped up and suggested that we rent a boat and take it for a spin around Lake Fewa. It was decided.

Fonts! I love fonts!

The boat cost 350 rupees (4 bucks) for an hour, and it seemed like the perfect antidote for the clammy weather. It was overcast, and the idea of being out on open water seemed dreamy.

We had one lifejacket for the four of us.

We began to lazily navigate the murky waters of the lake, regularly remarking about how nice it was to be out in nature. How calm it was. How a boat trip was the perfect antidote for the hangovers we were all nursing. How this was probably the best idea ever.

Jo is a babe. And a little bit crazy. 
I like that.

Rahul photobombs my lovely boat memory. Well done, buddy.

But see, Lake Fewa is actually pretty big (although teensy by behemoth Canadian standards) and we were paddling further and further from shore with little mind to the time or even to the slightly shifting wind.

It was around this time that I started to notice the weather changing. The gentle waves turned a fierce shade of olive green (like m'eyes) and the temperature dropped. A fine mist of lake water began to spray across our faces as the wind picked up and the boat began to feel unsteady.

"Hey, guys. Are we paddling into the wind?" I asked casually. Everyone got strangely quiet. We were now quite far away from shore. Jo checked the time and saw that we had twenty minutes left on our rental, and the boys began the arduous task of paddling us back to the dock. Or at least, attempting to paddle us back. The boat was not moving toward shore and began to rock and pitch. With every stroke of the oar, the wind seemed to push us right back to where we started. I began to fear, in earnest, that we would be struck by lightning.

I am normally a brazen, loudmouthed, smut-talkin' firecracker when I am hungover, but for the next fifteen minutes I was (nearly) silent, frozen with dread and the conviction that my passport, camera, iphone and I were all going to take a bath in the putrid waters of Lake Fewa. 

The boys finally muscled the boat closer to shore just as the thunder and lightning started. A Nepali paddler came zooming past us, shouting warnings about the storm, and as we got near the docking area a cadre of young men rushed to pull us into safety. While we were never really in much actual danger, I was overcome with relief when my little ballet flat-clad foot hit the muddy banks of the lake. 

Violet Dear needs to take a Nepali chill pill. No, seriously. They are called Tramidol.

It was quickly decided that afternoon beers were indeed in order, and as we walked back to the main drag of Pokhara, Jo piped up. "Hey, guys, did we even check the weather as we got into the boat?"

Thunder cracked overhead. No one answered her question.

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